Friday, July 31, 2009

Love and Rockets Tribute Album Release Party at Space 15 Twenty


A couple of days ago, I dropped by Space 15 Twenty for the release party of New Tales To Tell A Tribute to Love and Rockets. Shepard Fairey was on the decks for a DJ set along with performances by Astra Heights, Vex and Sweethead. Ironically, the last time I saw Shepard DJ was at the Glass House for the Love and Rockets warm up show prior to Coachella.

The bands involved in contributing tracks happen to be some of my favorite bands including Film School, A Place to Bury Strangers, Puscifer, Sweethead, and Black Francis.

Blaqk Audio (featuring members of AFI) had the prized slot by adding a synth feel to "No New Tale To Tell". Black Francis gave "All In My Mind" his characteristic edgy slant with rambling guitars. "Holiday On The Moon" gets deconstructed to a pulsating electronic minimalist groove with Maynard James Keenan's trademark floating vocals. Film School dials up their astounding wall of sound for a space fuzz take on "An American Dream". The squeals of feedback and pulsating drums of "The Light" by A Place To Bury Strangers might be my favorite interpretation with its haunting overtones.

A Bubbleman did make a roving appearance during the evening and I did spot Daniel Ash on the premises. I was busy catching up with some friends so I didn't catch too much of the performances. It is no coincidence that this is currently featured on the front of the itunes page in the column "What We're Listening to". At least someone has good taste at itunes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Glasvegas at the Henry Fonda Theater

Some of my favorite bands hail from Scotland. Jesus and The Mary Chain, Mogwai and Teenage Fanclub all comprise distinct spots in my music collection and are frequently visited throughout the year. Glasvegas also hail from Scotland and I was interested to see if they could live up to their esteemed countrymen.

Ida Maria

It seems that bands are coming to grips with the notion that they have to tour constantly to sustain momentum from the release of their album. I just saw Ida Maria almost a month ago when she played the Detroit Bar for OC Weekly. I didn't review the show but I do vividly remember her taking shots of Jagermeister on stage.

Ida Maria may have been slightly inebriated for her show at the Detroit bar, but came to slay and play on this particular night. It was a large Los Angeles crowd, so Ida smartly filed a top performance kicking things off with "Morning Light". Clothed in a sparkling gold dress, Ida thrashed away on her Fender Stratocaster in between emphatically waving her arms to "Louie".

Her band mates looked and sounded sharp ably rounding out her poignant tunes. The crowd responded favorably to her set with some of the high points being "Stella" and "I Like You So Much Better When Your Naked". Ida really shines on "Oh My God" in which she demonstrates she has more to offer then raspy vocals.

Ida will continue to open for Glasvegas on this tour with notable slots at Lollapalooza and the Monolith Festival in Colorado. If she turns in performances like she did at the Henry Fonda, she won't be opening for other bands much longer.

Glasvegas continues to storm the US in support of their debut album. I was disappointed they cancelled their appearance at Coachella this year as they were one of the bands I was interested in checking out. I also missed their extremely sold out Troubadour show a few months back coupled with an stripped down show at the Hollywood Forever.

In case you missed the memo, Glasvegas has quite the following in the UK. NME has praised the band and their self-titled debut album lauding it in the same company of Oasis and Blur. Glasvegas have maintained a grueling tour schedule to help spread the word and make an impact here stateside.

Glasvegas made quite a splash opening with my favorite song "Geraldine" with its careening guitars and soaring vocal harmonies. James Allan (Vocals/Guitars) was the essence of cool with his Ray Ban shades and beautiful Fender Jazzmaster. His cousin Rab Allan (Guitars) had a lefty Fender Stratocaster plugged into a wall of Fender amplifiers to produce an avalanche of thick fuzzy guitars.

While I felt Caroline Mckay's drumming was a tad on the robotic side, the wall of sound between the guitars and the steady bass playing of Paul Donoghue lived up to the hype and can't be ignored. Glasvegas also employed a heavy dose of strobe lights along with the brilliant lighting rig of the Henry Fonda theater make it one of the better lit shows of the year.

The guitars continued to jangle during "It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry" while James Allan's thick Scottish accent adds a distinctive charm to all their songs. Glasvegas would even dip into their Christmas EP by tackling the not so warm but definitely fuzzy tune "Fuck You, It's Over".

"Flowers And Football Tops" was another impressive track with James leading the crowd to sing the catchy "Wha Whoa Oh". Glasvegas did slow things down a tad with "Ice Cream Van" but immediately resumed their quickened pace with a scorching version of "Go Square Go". The evening came to a close with faithful versions of "S.A.D Light" and "Daddy's Gone". I would assume this show would bring a close to the touring cycle for their album, but you never know these days.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at the Echo

It was a hot summer day and an even hotter line up at the Echo. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart kicked off their tour after their well received set at the Pitchfork Festival.

Champagne Socialists

Champagne Socialists kicked things off with a garage rocky set led by the spunky lead vocals of Jihae Simmons Meek. They seemed like a young band trying to work out the kinks as indicated by their myspace page originating back to November of 2008. They happen to be labelmates of The Pain of Being Pure At Heart with their EP being released on Slumberland records.

I was thinking their set might have been more appropriate for the Smell. It was no coincidence that they will be playing the Smell in November after their short tour with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart ends. They reminded me vocally of Dance Hall Crashers if they listened to Sixties garage rock especially "Teardrop Tattoo".


Girls started slow but finished extremely strong. Looking like they just got off the trolley from San Francisco, Girls defied my visual expectations with a solid sonically sculpted set. "Solitude" was my only prior exposure to their wide branching sounds with its breezy '50s stylized rock.

The Girls recently made headlines about their penchant for drugs elucidated by Stereogum. It was interesting to note the Girls walk the walk and talk the talk as the members had some dark circles under their eyes. I guess they didn't get much sleep the night before.

I also dug their live rendition of "Hellhole Rat Race". I will be investigating their full length album when it is released. Girls will be back soon opening for Los Campesinos! at the El Rey Theatre on August 21 and Detroit Bar on August 23. I hope to catch one of those shows.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart might be the easiest and longest term to google for a band name. While they probably should have consulted someone prior to choosing their band name, they don't need any lessons on creating catchy tunes.

I had heard "Young Adult Friction" and was intrigued enough to check them out. In the gear department, I was excited when I saw a Nord Lead 2x keyboard for Peggy Wang (Keyboards/Vocals) and a homemade fuzz pedal setup for Kip Berman. (Vocals/Guitars).

I will admit I am a sucker for jangly guitars. It just so happened that the guitars didn't relent with their sugary textures. It was difficult to hear Peggy's keyboards in the mix but the two guitars roared all night backed by the constant thumping of Alex Naidus (Bass) and Kurt Feldman (Drums).

What really sold me was how impressive their new songs sounded. A new EP will be released on September 22 entitled Higher Than The Stars. The title track had parts of Teenage Fanclub mixed with elements of Stone Roses as I couldn't help bounce along. The songs are short and sweet with addiction potential of your favorite candy.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart will be back for a show at the Troubadour on September 19th with Cymbals Eat Guitars and the Depreciation Guild along with a stop at the Casbah on September 21st. I will definitely catch them again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Foreign Born at the Detroit Bar

Foreign Born at the Detroit Bar
Foreign Born were one of the first local bands to pop up on my radar back in January 2007 when they played at Little Radio for the Plug LA Awards. It was highly ironic that the night after they played the Detroit Bar, Rolling Stone featured them as a "Breaking" artist.

Other Girls
Other Girls at the Detroit Bar
Other Girls at the Detroit Bar
Other Girls at the Detroit Bar
Other Girls at the Detroit Bar
Other Girls at the Detroit Bar

The deluge of "Girls" bands continues but the Other Girls have been around since 2007 according to their myspace page. Other Girls are supporting their latest release Perfect Cities on Audio Eagle records.

Other Girls love the pop song format and provided a tightly spun sugary set with sonic references to The Shins and The Walkmen. It didn't long for me to enjoy the winding overdriven guitar riffs of "Hey Fella You Fell". It was easily one of the more memorable songs of the set and I can see why they are pushing it as the lead single.

"Sleep In A Year" definitely seems like a lost The Shins B-side which is meant as a compliment. Most of their songs barely clocked in the three minute territory which kept the audience engaged. The more I listen to their stuff on Myspace, the more I regret not picking up their album.

The Veils
The Veils at the Detroit Bar
The Veils at the Detroit Bar
The Veils at the Detroit Bar
The Veils at the Detroit Bar
The Veils at the Detroit Bar

The Veils were another strong reason to check out the show. The Veils just released their new album Sun Gangs on the veritable Rough Trade records. The Veils are helmed by Finn Andrews (Vocals, Guitars) along with the alluring Sophia Burn (Bass).

Their six song set went by in mere seconds as I was shocked their set was so brief. I checked my camera files and apparently it was a twenty-six minute set. I correlated their short set to the old adage of leave the audience wanting more. It could have also been the fact that Finn mentioned they were headlining Spaceland for Club NME the next night for a potentially longer set.

"Callilope!" trailed through the air like a trail of wistful smoke from a cigarette with Finn jangling out the chords on his Fender Jaguar. "Sit Down By The Fire" easily approached anthemic territory with its toe tapping bass and uplifting chord progression. "Larkspur" was a fitting closer to their set with Dan Raishbrook using a violin bow on his guitar for some added sustain. Sun Gangs is up on itunes for $7.99 with a bonus video.

Foreign Born
Foreign Born at the Detroit Bar
Foreign Born at the Detroit Bar
Foreign Born at the Detroit Bar
Foreign Born at the Detroit Bar

Foreign Born made one heck of a decision by signing to Secretly Canadian. I always thought they were criminally neglected on the Dim Mak records roster along with Deadly Syndrome. I really intrigued back in February 2008 when Foreign Born debuted "Early Warnings" and "Vacationing People" live when they opened for St. Vincent at the Echoplex.

Person To Person is the album that captures the true essence of Foreign Born. In the live format, Foreign Born has added more layers to their sonic palette with an additional keyboardist and percussionist. "Lion's Share" sounded even better live with Matt Popieluch (Vocals,Guitar) stomping his foot in time to the music. Lewis Pescacov (Guitars) really shines during the tropical guitar riff of "Early Warnings," yet Ariel Rechtshaid (Bass) holds it together with his stellar lefty Rickenbacker bass.

"See Us Home" brought things down a notch but still conveyed a strong redeeming message. "Vacationing People" rivals "Early Warnings" as my favorite song from their album and is propelled by the steady drumming of Garrett Ray. I think it is only a matter of opening a bigger tour to help propel Foreign Born to loftier heights. I wonder now that Rolling Stone has "Broke them" if that will made any difference in album sales.